College of Arts & Sciences: Shimer Great Books School

A Mind of Your Own

Those who agree great minds think alike neither knew a great mind, nor possessed one. Take yours for example: a mind that invites new ideas and embraces challenges; that recognizes brilliance forging a unique path; that's eager to address the problems of the present by drawing upon the wisdom of the past. 

The journey to further develop your mind starts here, with the Shimer Great Books School at North Central College.

Pursue wisdom

Here you will study the thoughts and findings of the world's first scientists, composers, and philosophers, and gain a more holistic view of the world through their many lenses. By studying original sources, you will learn not only from the conclusions of these authors, but from their journey of discovery. 

Shimer Students discussing an essay at a round table

Find Guidance

At Shimer, every class is a conversation. The entire curriculum follows the Socratic Method; because we know that active learning thrives in small-class discussions. Professors do not lecture from a podium. Rather, they sit with the students at the table, serving as facilitators, encouraging discussion and posing thought-provoking questions. They recognize that some of the greatest teachers you could ever learn from are the authors of books that have proven valuable to countless generations of thinkers.

Shimer students and faculty sitting in lounge

Gain perspective

Here you will find a community of those who question and seek deeper understanding - people who are not intimidated by controversy but invigorated by fresh perspectives; who see each other as fellow learners and teachers, each equipped with valuable insights and unique opinions. Within this community, you will complete a curriculum that covers both broad and specialized knowledge. 

Shimer students reading and discussing an article

Join the great conversation

Does beauty exist? What is light? Is the world becoming a better place?

Questions like these—that demand to be asked but seem to defy final answers—are the living heart of traditions of study and debate as old as recorded history. These traditions form the unique curriculum at the Shimer Great Books School. The “books” are the products of humanity’s search for answers—and sharper questions. Certainly, as a great books program, we read many books. But we also study paintings and sculptures, listen to symphonies and songs, watch films and explore buildings, and perform experiments that have led to new discoveries.

We arrange these inquiries into four majors: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and liberal studies. Regardless of which major you choose you will take courses that span disciplines and learn to integrate questions and insights from multiple areas of classical liberal arts.

book shelf full of books at the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer: Humanities

Shimer: Humanities Major

Shimer: Social Sciences

Shimer: Social Sciences Major

Shimer: Natural Sciences

Shimer: Natural Sciences Major

Shimer: Liberal Studies

Shimer: Liberal Studies Major

The ideal Shimer Great Books School student

Cherry trees in front of Old Main.

Shimer Great Books Curriculum

Students and faculty talking about great books.

The Conversation: The Shimer Great Books Blog

students sitting around table talking

Shimer Great Books Podcast

Supporting the Shimer Great Books School

Since the acquisition, graduates and friends of Shimer College have continued their faithful support of the Great Books through their annual financial contributions. Those interested in supporting the Shimer Great Books School at North Central College or who would like to make a gift in memory or honor of a member of the Shimer community are encouraged to contact Adrian Aldrich ’02, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at 800-611-1861 or to discuss available giving options.

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